Rodgers confident Celtic can handle Neymar and PSG
The world’s most expensive player Neymar and his side Paris Saint Germain hold no fear for Scottish champions Celtic says the latter’s manager Brendan Rodgers.
Neymar, French starlet Kylian Mbappe — signed on loan from Monaco with a view to a huge transfer fee next year — and Uruguayan veteran Edinson Cavani are due in Glasgow for Tuesday’s Champions League opener.
However, Rodgers claims his side have learnt from their Champions League campaign last year — they went out at the group stage after pulling Barcelona and Manchester City in their pool — and go into it in a confident frame of mind on the back of a 4-1 humbling of Hamilton on Friday.
“This is the start of a really exciting month for us of games,” said Rodgers, whose side went top ahead of leaders Aberdeen’s trip on Saturday to Hearts.
“The composure and quality we played with was absolutely outstanding. We got four really good goals and could have got some more.
“We leave here having had a great confidence boost.
“It’s now about recovering from this game and getting our plan set with the players.”
Rodgers, who will be without influential injured duo Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele for the PSG game, said the disparity in finances of the two clubs could even out with the atmosphere in the ground.
“What we’ve learned from our first game of the Champions League last year is that we’re not going to be as passive,” said Rodgers.
“They’re (PSG) a world away from where we’re at in terms of finances but it’s going to be an incredible night.
“It’s the first game of the Champions League against one of the great teams now of the competition, it will be another special night at Celtic Park.
“We’ll look forward to the challenge and we’ll recover well and prepare well for it.”
Rodgers, whose side extended their unbeaten domestic run to 54 games, was especially taken by the debut of 19-year-old French teenager Odsonne Edouard, who ironically came on loan from PSG.
With Griffiths and Dembele absent, the 19-year-old striker was thrown straight into the starting XI and marked it with a goal and setting one up to boot.
Edouard impressed as the lone striker and after Stuart Armstrong fired Celtic in front the teenager’s power and pace helped set up Scott Sinclair for the second.
Sinclair added a third prior to the break before Edouard got the goal his performance merited when he slotted home midway through the second half.
Rodgers couldn’t hide his admiration for the teenager, who had only trained with his new team-mates for a couple of days before the match.
“It’s a great debut from Odsonne Edouard. I thought he was outstanding,” said Rodgers.
“He received a round of applause from all the players and staff at the end of the game.
“He’s come in as a young player at 19 and not really speaking the language.
“He’s left Paris, which was 30 odd degrees, and trained with us in the rain all week, but he’s fitted in very well.
“You can see his natural hunger to work and to press. With the help of some of the other boys we’ve helped him understand how we like to play and how we like to defend and attack and he’s produced a very good performance.
“I’m delighted for him. All strikers want to get goals and he’s scored one and created one or two more opportunities for himself.
“You see how he pressed and ran and you can clearly see his quality and his speed.
“His profile suits how we play, he’s very hungry, and his view of the game was exceptional tonight.”